'Super confident' Verstappen won't be stopped – Eddie Jordan's F1 predictions
After months of anticipation, Formula One fires up again as the 2023 season starts this weekend with the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Max Verstappen will be aiming to win his third drivers’ title in a row, a feat only four men, including rival Sir Lewis Hamilton, have achieved, with the likes of Charles Leclerc and George Russell also dreaming of becoming champions for the first time.
Red Bull meanwhile are looking to defend their constructors’ championship after ending Mercedes’ remarkable eight-year streak last season, but once again will face competition from Ferrari who are desperate to claim their first a title since 2008.
Speaking exclusively to Metro Sport via OLBG, Eddie Jordan, who owned the Jordan Racing team from 1991 to 2005, shared his predictions ahead of what is set to be another thrilling F1 season:
Who will win the drivers’ and constructors’ championship?
‘I think more the same. I think Max is so on top of his game, he’s so arrogant, he’s so aggressive, he’s super confident and he’s got another Adrian Newey car under him.
‘Of course there’s weaknesses in every team, in every person because we’re all human, but Max seems to be less flawed than any other driver.
‘Red Bull are very, very strong. I’m quite sure that with the advancements of the Honda engine [they will win again]. Put all that package together, it will be very difficult to knock them off their perch.’
With the appointment of Frederic Vasseur, could this finally be Ferrari’s year?
‘With Red Bull, Adrian Newey has been there 17 years. Christian Horner has been there a similar sort of time so you have continuity and understanding. It’s like a well-honed soccer or rugby team, each person knows their position and what to do in a crisis.
‘Sometimes if you look down at Ferrari where they change a lot of the personnel and don’t have that kind of continuity, you get screw ups in the middle of a race or not knowing when the pits stops are going to be or little things that always come to drive you crazy when you get a chance to win.
‘Let’s just reflect. Before the Michael Schumacher era, the last person to win [with Ferrari] was Jody Scheckter and that was a very long time ago . So then you had the Michael Schumacher era and let’s not forget they had Jean Todt, Ross Brawn, Rory Byrne, there was a host of absolutely brilliant engineers.
‘Ferrari have traditionally appointed people who perhaps didn’t spend their early youth in motor racing. And as a result of that, I think they were flawed in certain situations where wrong decisions are made like engineers calling for pit stops when the team wasn’t ready and just a whole host of things.
‘It’s going to take a lot of time for Fred to reverse the culture at Ferrari. Let’s see in the future if Fred can put a certain discipline and style into Ferrari that is a winning culture and that’s what they don’t have at the moment. They don’t have the mindset to completely dominate and win a championship.’
After the worst season of his career, will Lewis Hamilton be back to his best?
‘I just so happen to believe that Lewis will be a much bigger force this season. This time last year the problems of Abu Dhabi ’21 were playing on his mind, and he started the season poorly and I think he gave an opportunity to George Russell and we saw which way the championship finished as a result.
‘Forget last year for now with Lewis. He wouldn’t be doing this unless he was determined to win his eighth world title so I think we’re going to see a titanic battle for the championship and I’m looking forward to it immensely.
‘I really do think that Lewis will take the upper hand back again and that’s not refection on George. For sure, he surprised me last year. To be absolutely honest, I didn’t think he had that speed, that pace.
‘I was absolutely wrong because he caught me unawares and I am a huge believer in Lewis and his speed and his ability, so for his teammate to come in and do what he did was amazing. It was good for the sport and it was good for Mercedes and it was actually good for Lewis.
‘He’s had the whole winter to reflect on this. I think Lewis will be back to himself and he will be determined but Mercedes will have to pull something out of the bag this year.’
Can anyone challenge the ‘big three’ of Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes?
‘It’s difficult. There’s all sorts of driver changes and that will be important. I’m slightly biased, but I’m interested to see how Fernando Alonso will go in the Aston Martin because that was Jordan Racing in the past so a bit of nostalgia there.
‘Never underestimate Alonso. If he gets the proper car, if he gets the speed and the team behind him, he can cause an upset. And Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen know that. They have great respect for him.
‘Years aren’t his friend at the moment but that shouldn’t be a reflection. If you’ve seen the videos on social media of Fernando training in the mountains, you’ll know the man is so committed. Very few people will be as fit as him.
‘So age is not a factor for me. What I do believe is that he brings a massive wealth of knowledge and a culture of winning and he will install that. I do believe that Alonso will be one to watch.
‘Lando Norris is obviously extremely good. You just don’t know what is going to happen at Alpine. There are new sponsors at Alfa Romeo and Haas, a lot of different changes, but by in large the top three teams are going to dominate and it will take a lot of effort for another team to emerge and compete against them.’
What advice would you send to the three rookies on the grid: Oscar Piastri, Nyck de Vries and Logan Sargeant?
‘I know Oscar because I see him with Mark Webber who’s a close pal and we cycle together a lot. He tells me what Oscar is able to do but this a daunting set of circumstances. To go into McLaren, a hugely historically successful team and up against Norris who is one of the emerging stars.
‘We’ve talked about George Russell being an emerging world champion but you’d have to put Norris in the same category because I think he’s that good. He’s got a couple of rough edges like most drivers but he looks the real deal to me.
‘If any of these rookie drivers can score points reasonably early in the season it calms everything down, it gives their a head a balance and they’ll be able to look forward rather than backwards because it’s a matter of confidence, it’s something that you build on.
‘I’d tell everyone who worked at Jordan, the drivers in particular, you’ve got to believe. Not 99% believe. You’ve got to believe 100% that you can achieve and that you can win or get the best possible result.
‘Set a target for yourself and just keep moving the bar higher. It’s worth the struggle. In years to come you’ll look back at your first year when you were a rookie and say, “If only I had done it better or differently”. Don’t lose the opportunity and don’t lose the time, that’s what I would advice.’
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